This Day In Literary History
On July 30th, 1818, the legendary English writer Emily Brontë was born in West Yorkshire, England. Her sisters Charlotte (author of the classic novel Jane Eyre) and Anne were also poets and novelists. Her brother Patrick Branwell Brontë was a poet and painter.
Their father was a poor Irish clergyman, but he did have an impressive collection of classic literature. Emily and her siblings educated themselves by reading all of his books. As children, they created imaginary worlds and filled notebooks with stories about them.
Emily attended Miss Patchett's Ladies Academy at Law Hill School near Halifax, then later, a private school in Brussels. When her sister Charlotte discovered her own talent as a poet, they decided to collaborate on a book of poetry, along with sister Anne.
Due to the prejudice against women writers in the Victorian era, the Brontë sisters, like other female authors, published their poetry under male pseudonyms. Emily took the name Ellis Bell, Charlotte became Currer Bell, and Anne's nom de guerre was Acton Bell.
Their first book, published in 1846, was titled Poems by Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell. The following year, Emily Brontë published her classic novel, Wuthering Heights, as Ellis Bell.
Originally published in two volumes, (Anne Brontë later wrote a third volume called Agnes Grey) Wuthering Heights is considered one of the greatest Gothic novels of all time.
It told the unforgettable story of the intensely passionate, yet ultimately doomed love affair between childhood sweethearts Heathcliff and Catherine, soul mates who are ultimately separated by cruelty and snobbery, their unresolved emotions threatening to destroy them.
When it was first published, Wuthering Heights received mixed reviews due to its stark and brutal depictions of mental and physical cruelty. It has since been recognized as one of the all-time classics of English literature.
Unfortunately, Emily Brontë would never write another novel. After her brother died of tuberculosis, Emily contracted the disease herself, a result of a cold she caught during his funeral. She died in December of 1848, at the age of thirty. Her sister Anne died of tuberculosis the following year.
After Emily Brontë's death, her sister Charlotte edited her two volumes of Wuthering Heights into a standalone novel, and republished it under Emily's real name. Charlotte also died young of tuberculosis, or so her death certificate stated.
Some biographers have claimed that she actually died from either typhus or dehydration, as well as malnutrition from excessive vomiting brought on by severe morning sickness.
Although Emily Brontë's life was tragically cut short, her literary legacy lives on. Wuthering Heights continues to inspire readers to this day, and has been adapted numerous times for the stage, screen, radio, and television.
Quote Of The Day
"Proud people breed sad sorrows for themselves." - Emily Brontë
Today's video features a complete reading of Emily Brontë's classic novel, Wuthering Heights. Enjoy!